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Nigeria Pres. Ups Wages, Averts Strike 10/01 09:06


   ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) -- Nigeria's leader increased the wages of some 
government workers in last-minute efforts to appease labor unions whose planned 
strike this week could shut down government offices in all sectors of Africa's 
largest economy.

   Low-grade workers will in the next six months be paid an additional 25,000 
naira ($32) a month, President Bola Tinubu said Sunday in a nationwide 
broadcast to mark Nigeria's 63rd independence anniversary.

   The increase expected to take effect this month takes the minimum wage to 
55,000 naira ($71), still far below the 200,000 naira ($258) the unions had 
requested. The labor unions did not immediately comment on Tinubu's 

   The unions representing Nigeria's government workers announced they will go 
on an indefinite strike starting Tuesday to protest the government's austerity 

   In office since May 29, Tinubu's policies aimed at fixing Nigeria's ailing 
economy have more than doubled the cost of living for more than 210 million 
people who already were grappling with a surging inflation. It hit an 18-year 
high of 25.8% in August.

   After he ended the yearslong expensive subsidies for gas on his first day in 
office, the price of petrol more than doubled, resulting in a similar hike in 
the price of other commodities. The government's devaluation of the currency 
further increased prices, including food.

   Talks with the labor unions have stalled and a slow start to several 
intervention efforts resulted in last week's announcement of the indefinite 
strike. On Sunday, Tinubu said the new wage increase will enhance the workers' 
pay "without causing undue inflation."

   He again appealed to Nigerians to bear with his government during the 
economic hardship, saying that the burdens they face today "should have been 
shed years ago."

   "I wish today's difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to 
reach the good side of our future," he said.

   To boost employment and incomes, Tinubu said his administration is providing 
investment funding for enterprises and will start giving cash handouts to 
additional 15 million "vulnerable households" as part of a social welfare 

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